In this episode of Company Spotlight, we’re so excited to feature Olimpia Gire of Noble Real Estate Services’ as she talks about her strategy on scaling a Property Management business and how she was able to utilize our virtual assistant service effectively for her business growth.
If you are looking to grow your business and want to avoid the chaos of a wrong hire, I’m always here to help! Feel free to book an appointment with me today so I can help you strategize all throughout the process!
Anne Lackey: Welcome to the show. My name is Anne Lackey, I’m the co-founder of HireSmartVAs and today I have a great treat for you. I have Olympia Guyer, she is the broker/owner of Noble Real Estate Services and she and her husband Jason have been together and doing real estate since 2008 in property management. Now they both have had tons of other real estate experience before that. They currently manage over 700 properties in the Chula Vista or South Bay area. And one of the things that I love about Olympia specifically is she is a first-generation U.S. citizen, so she brings a different perspective to property management. She was born at Mercy hospital and raised in Chula Vista. So she’s a true native to that area and so she knows everything that there needs to know because she graduated from Buena Vista High School and went to Southwestern College. She earned her degree in Business Administration. So Olympia, welcome to the show, we’re so happy to have you.
Olympia Guyer: Hi.
Anne Lackey: So I met you, I guess it’s been about a year ago now at one of the property management conferences.
Olympia Guyer: Yes.
Anne Lackey: And I know you had 1000 questions, I remember you very well. I remember those first conversations because Olympia would come to talk to me for a little bit and then she would go away and then she’d think about something and she’d come back and she goes, “Okay, I have some more questions.” And so that’s kind of how you process information but eventually, you decided that this might be something for you that you could do. So share with our listeners a little bit about kind of your thought process and how you went from being very nervous and scared to pulling the trigger and hiring your first VA, which you’ve had probably about almost a full year now, I think with her. So tell everybody kind of how you got over that initial inertia of “Oh my gosh, this is scary.”
Olympia Guyer: Yes, it was very scary but I had actually met your husband at a previous seminar.
Anne Lackey: Oh, okay.
Olympia Guyer: I think at the NARPM conference and two companies were next to each other. And so I would go to him and I’d go to the other one, “Well, why are you this way? Why are you this way?” And then Neil, right? Your husband he’s…
Anne Lackey: Well Mark’s my husband, Neil’s my business partner.
Olympia Guyer: Oh, okay. So what’s your husband’s name?
Anne Lackey: Mark.
Olympia Guyer: Mark. Mark was very soft-spoken and I thought… so I didn’t sign up, but it was like, “Okay, we didn’t renew it.” So then when I met you and I love the [mom-mom-mom 00:02:41] that you are. And I said, “Okay, well I think this lady’s for real.” Because I talked to a lot of people. You were probably like the fourth company that I interviewed and I’m getting older and very weary and fearful, and I’m not as trusting as I used to be when I was younger. So when I met you, you’re like a fireball to me and I thought, “Okay, well I think she’s on the right path.” And so I signed up. I signed up right there once I met you.
Anne Lackey: Wow. Well thank you, I appreciate the compliment. Yeah. I always tell people, people either really gravitate to Mark or they gravitate to me because we are very different in our approach. I mean I think we’re both get-driven kind of people, but he is much like you said, softer about that or like, “You just need to do it. There’s no better way to do it.”
Olympia Guyer: One of the things that you said that made me jump is that I told you I’m very scared and you said, “I was very scared and we did it with no one behind us, I’m going to hold your hand.” And I was like, “Oh you are? Is that okay?” Then I felt like I could trust you.
Anne Lackey: Did I fulfill that promise for you?
Olympia Guyer: Yes.
Anne Lackey: Okay.
Olympia Guyer: Well, you actually held my hand a little bit more than I wanted to. I appreciate that though because you’re very precise.
Anne Lackey: Yeah. So I always want to make sure I deliver on the promises that…
Olympia Guyer: You totally delivered on the promises. Yes, I appreciate that.
Anne Lackey: Because that’s something that I think you hit on right away is that certainly there are lots of different opportunities and things that can go great or not great when you’re dealing with staff. Because again, we’re dealing with human capital, right? And I don’t care whether your human capital is a tenant who you’ve screened really well and they move into a home and they have a car accident and now can’t pay, right? I mean it’s kind of that same kind of thing where you have a staff member that gets ill, it’s kind of the same thing.
I really have a lot of parallels between what I do in staffing and what we do in property management because again, we’re dealing with human capital, but it’s always been really important for me to be able, just whether it be in my property management company or whether it be in HireSmart to be able to say without a doubt that says, “Look, we’re not perfect, but I will make it right.” I will do everything I can to make sure that our clients are super happy. And I will give you as much information as you want. Like you said, probably a little bit more, but that just, information is power for me and I think the more information you have, whether you use it or not, does it really matter? You at least then can make those decisions.
So I’m really very happy that you’re a year in at this point and feeling great about the success of what I’ve done for you, so thank you for that. Kind of share with us a little bit, because this is a question that comes up all the time. What does your virtual assistant do for you? Because that’s probably the number one question I get is like well it sounds good but really can they do everything? Are you telling me they can do stuff that they can’t do? So tell us a little bit about some of the tasks that you have done with your virtual professional.
Olympia Guyer: We work with ShowMojo and we have another virtual company that’s our leasing line that I’m trying to wean out because I did sign up with both of you at the same time and they were more of leasing and you were more the back office. But I’m more comfortable with the way that you work and what we’re using now, our virtual lady in the Philippines, she does all of our follow-ups and she does all of our ads.
Olympia Guyer: And I time her and it was very difficult to have those ads done here at the office. And we have three people on staff and everyone, I had a schedule for each one of them, they were supposed to do an hour. I don’t know how I could not get a full hour from all three in an eight-hour day. That was 24 hours, not one hour. So now I have the virtual assistant that by the way, I think I did tell you I want to get a new one, another one.
Anne Lackey: No, but I’m happy to help with that.
Olympia Guyer: Yes. Not a new one, but another one. And I’m very happy with the way she follows up because the other company doesn’t do a follow-up. So we get a list of people and she calls everybody and pre-qualifies them. She knows our scripts and does the ads.
Anne Lackey: So that’s great. So she’s actually probably reduced your vacancy then if she’s able to do that type of follow-up. Would you say that that was part of the success?
Olympia Guyer: Yes. It’s very rare that we have things in standing inventory. We work on three-day turnover, so we’re quick. And if something happens, yeah, my husband’s on Skype with her and “We’re going to do this.” So she’s very attentive to that and I think she’s caught on with our philosophy of getting things occupied quickly. I’ve seen other companies that wait like 30 days, 45 days for a vacancy. Like if we have five days vacant, it’s too much. So she’s really helped us in that, yes.
Anne Lackey: Well that’s great. I wish I could say I was a five-day occupant, it kind of depends on the time of year. Right now some of mine are lingering a little bit longer than I like. Even though we do the same thing. Like Bonnie gets a viewing, she calls the next day, “Did you see it? Did you …” Because we do total self showing without ShowMojo or any of the other tools. And so she’ll ask, “Are you going to apply? Blah blah blah blah blah.” And that really does shorten that time period because they think, “Oh if you’re this attentive with showing, aren’t you also going to be attentive with my maintenance and are you going to care about all the other things that go on?” Because I think tenants are still a little nervous about that. Is this company going to take care of my requests in a timely manner? How are they going to treat me? Am I a person or am I number? So I know for me it was a huge game-changer.
Well, that’s awesome. So she does a lot of the pre-listing type stuff and all the follow-up. And I think something else that you said that was very kind of interesting and telltale is that she gets stuff done that you couldn’t get anybody in your office to do.
Olympia Guyer: Nobody. I mean it was like pulling hair. It was like, I said so many times, “Okay if you guys don’t do the ads, I don’t need you.” It was just like that’s our lifeline. And now it’s taken off the stress. We do have a lot of work to do and they still are very busy. We have that time to give the ads and now our virtual assistant works the morning as soon as she clocks in at 8:30 and before lunch and then goes to lunch and then puts ads up again.
Anne Lackey: Yeah. So you’ve got a nice routine for her as well of time blocking, which is always helpful. I don’t care what role you are in a company, if you don’t time block and have certain things at certain times you’ll be pulled in a thousand different directions, so that’s really smart. How has that impacted your company? I mean again, we talked a little bit about shortening the vacancies a little bit more and taking that load off, but what other kinds of surprises have come from hiring virtually versus hiring someone locally?
Olympia Guyer: Well, we did have a fourth person in the office and sometimes my staff says, “We need a fourth person.” And I said, “Yeah, she’s in the Philippines.” So I really like it. I mean payroll has gone down, taxes have gone down. I don’t have to worry that she’s going to call in sick. Actually, our lady has never called in sick.
Anne Lackey: It’s rare, It depends. Sometimes in the high typhoon season, it happens, but to me, it’s a lot rarer than it was locally.
Olympia Guyer: But locally, I mean the state makes you give them three days off to be out sick. And so it’s an expected part of the game. But she hasn’t and it’s really nice that she is here when we are out. So like for the holidays, we had her work during our holiday time because we do still have a lot of showings during the holidays. So she kept on going and I always think of the business as a train. So the train didn’t slow down, it kept ongoing. And that was a big plus because we couldn’t have had that with someone here in the office.
Anne Lackey: Good. Good, good, good. So what advice would you give to someone that’s considering hiring a virtual professional? Let’s say they were where you are a year ago, what would you tell them?
Olympia Guyer: I would say give them a little bit of work. If you are a skeptic as I am, give them a little bit of work and then see what they will produce and it’s scary because you see the people in the office and you see them Facebook, the telephone, a million things.
And what would I do is I have my staff upfront, so they kind of babysit each other. They’re on Skype when she’s on Skype and if there are any questions, they’re communicating and all three of my staff are on Skype with her. And so that helps her to come into the office and feel more part of the whole team. But I think giving her small things, at first what I wanted to do was to give her my tech reconciliations because that’s what I do. And it was just like, “Oh my God, if I could give this away.” But I haven’t done that yet, I am still very skeptical of that.
You hear so many stories, I tell my husband, Donny and Marie worked since they were three and they’re still working because somebody took all their money or Elton John like you’d think that he’d have all this security and his manager took all his money so I hang onto those thoughts so I just give a little bit, a little bit, a little bit. But I’ve been very happy with the process with our young lady.
Sometimes I think things happen because we’re human. Like we can’t get rid of that and we get into a rut. So sometimes I jump on, “Hey, how are you? What’s happening?” And she’ll perk up and … I do a lot of those surprises, maybe not as often, but I think it’s really … one other thing that I saw another property manager, very well-known and he was saying about virtual assistant and he said that his employees in the office said, “Why do you have them?” Like maybe they were feeling a little bit like they were going to have their job taken away and the man said: “They don’t call in sick, I don’t have to deal with vacations, and whenever I ask anything they say yes right away.”
And so that made me think too like, “Yeah that’s really, that’s what happens.’ And I don’t know if it’s part of your training or the part of that we got lucky with our virtual assistant but I think it has a lot with you because of the other companies that I interviewed, they were a little bit laid back and I’m not too much of a laid back person, actually, there’s nothing laid back about me. So probably in your interviewing and selecting this person it really worked out for us.
Anne Lackey: Well that is probably the biggest difference. I don’t have a room full of VA’s that I say, “Here’s three, pick which one you like.” I mean I actually go in the source, in hand, handpick, interview, do all of that. Do the background check because you talked about security and one of the things that I think is super important is that we do an FBI level background check on all of our staff. And you can’t do that in every country. It’s very transparent, that’s just not doable but that was important to me. And the other thing that I realized when I was going through this myself is that there are over a million workers in the Philippines working for U.S. companies. Well that’s huge, right? I mean the Chase, the financials of the world pick the Philippines to have their call center, they’re probably pretty smart.
Why feel right? Those were all some of the factors that we went through when we were trying to figure out what country to use, because there’s several, and some are actually cheaper than the Philippines, but the Philippines had the nicest blend of English-speaking, cultural fit, price point. I mean there’s certainly not, again not the cheapest, but their labor rate is very cost-effective. And we could have a huge social impact. Last year we gifted all of our VA’s healthcare for them after the five months of service. So that reflects itself in the retention for our clients, right?
Because it’s a need. It’s very expensive for them to get on their own, we actually just got a nice thank you letter literally over the weekend that said, “This has been such a blessing for my family. I wouldn’t be able to have had this happen. It was a medical condition that was fixed over the weekend had we not had these resources. So thank you for taking care of us.” And again that kind of goes to our core values of always wanting to deliver what we promise, which is we want to pay our people very well, we want them to be engaged and really kind of connect with our clients in a way. So they are really considered employees without the employee implication.
Olympia Guyer: Yeah.
Anne Lackey: Instead of all the other stuff. So what other last piece of advice would you give someone or would you want to tell the world about it and then we’ll kind of close out the interview?
Olympia Guyer:Well, one thing that we’re working towards is to send her one of our phones and have her work on our database. And we’ve had a lot of growing pains in the office, I haven’t had time for that. But I think if I do that, it will be huge because we do have maintenance and it’s interesting that people complain about maintenance and it’s a moneymaker for us. So I want people to get maintenance, it’s not that I don’t want. And interestingly enough, people complain because they don’t get maintenance, but it’s a moneymaker for us, we’re contractors as well. So that’s my next step. But I have been truly very happy and right now the holidays and it’s been crazy, but I make time because I’m really appreciative of you, of the way you are. And even though you seem like, but you’re very sweet. I appreciate that. I really feel comfortable with you, that my stuff is being taken care of and that you’re responsible for it.
Anne Lackey: Well, thank you Olimpia. Well listen, if you guys want to have a great property manager in the South Bay area, I certainly would recommend that you reach out to Olympia and her team and her details are going to be at the bottom of this screen as well as on this next slide. So thank you so much for being a part of our family and we do appreciate it.
Olympia Guyer: Thank you, yes.